15 November 2011

Free advice #nlpoli

Free advice, they say, is worth exactly what you paid for it.

And when it comes to free advice on the provincial Liberal Party leadership, Dean MacDonald is more full of it than usual.  CBC’s David Cochrane gave MacDonald free airtime this past weekend to share his insights into what the party needs to do.

Cochrane describes MacDonald as having “long Liberal ties” but that really isn’t an accurate description of MacDonald’s limited association with the Liberal Party.  Sure the guy spent some time as Brian Tobin’s bagman for Tobin’s abortive federal leadership run.  But other than that and raising some cash recently, MacDonald’s most significant act while associated with the Liberal Party was blading Roger Grimes as MacDonald’s old business buddy  - Danny Williams – strode toward the Premier’s Office.

And that, dear reader, is the extent of MacDonald’s association with provincial Liberals.  If that’s all that it takes to have not only ties, but long ones by some estimations, then perhaps that speaks more to the sorry state of the provincial Liberal Party at this point in history than anything else.

The guy, after all, hasn’t held any positions within the party, has an incredibly limited record of his own of making financial contributions to the provincial Liberals and, as far as it appears has absolutely no political experience whatsoever.

MacDonald acknowledges this point, by the way, when he talks about the need for establishing some street cred within the party. 

And aside from suggesting he could “help out” by fundraising or doing some other odd jobs, MacDonald doesn’t offer much else. 

What he does do is spout a phenomenal load of pure shit throughout the entire interview.  One of the choice moments is when Cochrane asks MacDonald about Dean’s criticism about Kathy Dunderdale’s “unsustainable” spending.  MacDonald quickly disavows any suggestion he was criticising the Conservatives. 

When Cochrane notes – quite rightly  - that Danny is the guy who started the unsustainable spending, MacDonald launches into an extensive Conservative apologia for Danny Williams’ unsustainable public spending.  It’s vintage Williams bullshit from a charter member of the Fan Club.

Beyond that, Dean doesn’t have anything to offer on the Liberal Party beyond the need to “rebuild”, bring in "new people and fresh blood.

And that’s it.

To describe this as amateur and superficial would be generous.  His own experience in fundraising is, by his own characterization, nothing beyond “arm-twisting” and organizing big dinners with high profile speakers.

On Muskrat Falls, MacDonald doesn’t do much better.  he exaggerates his own involvement with the provincial government’s hydro corporation.  His observations about the project and the issues involved are best described – again to be very generous – as superficial.  MacDonald does not even have substantive talking points on the subject. The best he can do to try and counter David Vardy’s critique is suggest Vardy is recycled from the 1970s. 

And that – you can see where this is going - is all there was.

If you want to talk about Liberal leadership politics, you’d be far better off looking at the federal party.  There, at least, you can find people with ideas and energy.  You can find people who have done a few things, taken a few for the team they were actually on, and who remain ready to do more.

The federal Liberals are talking about having a wide-open leadership race that lasts several months and involves a series of votes.  Some are likening it to the American primaries.  As the Toronto Star reported:

“This is not tinkering at the edges. This fundamentally changes how power in a political organization is exercised,” Liberal party president Alfred Apps told reporters on Thursday as the revival plan was released.

Some of the problems the federal Liberals have experienced are mirrored at the provincial Liberals:

    • An “out-of-date” party structure, with “an approach to campaigning from a bygone era.”
    • An “aging establishment elite” holding too much power at the party centre.

For the provincial crowd, you can add a third one:  a tendency to accept players from another team into their midst.  Some of them even wind up being touted as potential leadership material spouting tons of free advice.

- srbp -